Ingredient Substitutions Chart: Common & Uncommon Ingredients | The Old Farmer's Almanac

Ingredient Substitutions for Common and Uncommon Ingredients

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Making the Best of What You Have!

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Out of baking powder, milk, eggs, flour? Our Ingredient Substitutions Guide has a long list of very common—and uncommon—ways to make that recipe work! When a craving gets you into the kitchen to do some cooking and you find that you’re missing one or two of the recipe’s ingredients, don’t despair. Look here! 

Even uncommon or exotic ingredients can be substituted with others that are in your pantry, or with ones that are easier (and a lot less expensive) to get. For example, no bamboo shoots? Use asparagus. Need shallots? Red or Spanish onion do nicely. Out of tamarind juice? Combine 5 parts ketchup and 1 part vinegar.  

Check below for other simple subs—and cook, eat, and enjoy!

Update: During these times, if you’re low on flour (or out of flour), here are some baking ideas

Common Ingredient Substitutions

Here are simple substitutions for basic cooking ingredients. 

Allspice 1 teaspoon 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon plus 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
Arrowroot, as thickener 1 teaspoon 1 tablespoon flour; or 1 teaspoon cornstarch
Baking powder 1 teaspoon 1/4 teaspoon baking soda plus 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch plus 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Baking soda 1 teaspoon 4 teaspoons baking powder; or 1 teaspoon potassium bicarbonate and 1/3 teaspoon salt.
Bread crumbs 1 cup 1 cup cracker crumbs; or 1 cup matzo meal OR 1 cup ground oats
Brown sugar 1 cup Add 1 tablespoon of molasses plus granulated sugar to make 1 cup
Butter, salted 1 cup 1 cup margarine; or 1 cup shortening plus 1/2 teaspoon salt; or 7/8 cup vegetable oil plus 1/2 teaspoon salt
Butter, unsalted 1 cup 1 cup shortening OR 7/8 cup vegetable oil
Buttermilk 1 cup 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar plus milk to equal 1 cup; or 1 cup plain yogurt
Chocolate, unsweetened 1 ounce 3 tablespoons cocoa plus 1 tablespoon unsaltedbutter (or shortening or vegetable oil)
Cracker crumbs 3/4 cup 1 cup dry bread crumbs; or 1 tablespoon quick-cooking oats (for thickening)
Cream, heavy 1 cup 3/4 cup milk plus 1/3 cup melted butter (this will not whip)
Cream, light 1 cup 7/8 cup milk plus 3 tablespoons melted, unsalted butter
Cream, sour 1 cup 7/8 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt plus 3 tablespoons melted, unsalted butter
Cream, whipping 1 cup 2/3 cup well-chilled evaporated milk, whipped; or 1 cup nonfat dry milk powder whipped with 1 cup ice water
Egg  1 whole (3 tablespoons) 2 yolks plus 1 tablespoon cold water; or 3 tablespoons vegetable oil plus 1 tablespoon water (for baking); or 3 tablespoons mayonainaise (for cakes); or  2 1/2 tablespoons of powdered egg substitute plus 2 1/2 tablespoons water, or 1/4 cup liquid egg substitute; or half a banana mashed with 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Egg white 1 white 2 tablespoons meringue powder plus 3 tablespoons water, combined
Flour, all-purpose 1 cup 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons cake flour (not advised for cookies or quick breads); or 1 cup self-rising flour (omit baking powder and salt from recipe).
Reader suggestion: 5/8 cup potato flour; or 1–1/4 cups rye flour or coarsely ground whole-grain flour; or 1 cup cornmeal
Flour, cake 1 cup 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons sifted all-purpose flour plus 3 tablespoons cornstarch
Flour, self-rising 1 cup 1 cup all-purpose flour plus 1–1/2 teaspoons baking powder plus 1/4 teaspoon salt
Garlic 1 small clove 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder or instant minced garlic
Herbs, dried 1/2 to 1 teaspoon 1 tablespoon fresh herbs, minced and packed
Honey 1 cup 1–1/4 cups sugar plus 1/2 cup liquid called for in recipe (such as water or oil); or 1 cup pure maple syrup
Ketchup 1 cup 1 cup tomato sauce plus 1/4 cup sugar plus 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar plus 1/2 teaspoon salt plus inch of ground cloves combined; or 1 cup chili sauce
Lemon juice 1 teaspoon 1/2 teaspoon vinegar
Lemon, juice and rind 1 lemon 3 tablespoons bottled lemon juice and 1 teaspoon dried grated rind
Lemon rind, grated 1 teaspoon 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
Mayonnaise 1 cup 1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt; or 1 cup cottage cheese (pureed)
Milk, skim 1 cup 1/3 cup instant nonfat dry milk plus 3/4 cup water
Milk, to sour 1 cup 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice plus milk to equal 1 cup. Stir and let stand 5 minutes.
Milk, whole 1 cup 1/2 cup evaporated milk plus 1/2 cup water; or 3/4 cup 2 percent milk plus 1/4 cup half and half
Molasses 1 cup 1 cup honey or dark corn syrup
Mustard, dry 1 teaspoon 1 tablespoon prepared mustard less 1 teaspoon liquid from recipe
Oat bran 1 cup 1 cup wheat bran or rice bran or wheat germ
Oats, old-fashioned 1 cup 1 cup steel-cut Irish or Scotch oats
Oil, for baking 1/2 cup ½ cup of applesauce (keeps baked goods moist, but with less fat)
Onion, chopped 1 small 1 tablespoon instant minced onion; or 1 teaspoon onion powder; or 1/4 cup frozen chopped onion
Quinoa 1 cup 1 cup millet or couscous (whole wheat cooks faster) or bulgur
Sugar, dark brown 1 cup 1 cup light-brown sugar, packed; or 1 cup granulated sugar plus 2 to 3 tablespoons molasses
Sugar, granulated 1 cup 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar; or 1–3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar (but makes baked goods less crisp); or 1 cup superfine sugar
Sugar, light-brown 1 cup 1 cup granulated sugar plus 1 to 2 tablespoons molasses; or 1/2 cup dark-brown sugar plus 1/2 cup granulated sugar
Sweetened condensed milk 1 can (14 oz.) 1 cup evaporated milk plus 1-1/4 cup granulated sugar. Combine and heat until sugar dissolves.
Tomatoes, canned 1 cup 1/2 cup tomato sauce plus 1/2 cup water; or 1–1/3 cups chopped fresh tomatoes, simmered
Tomato juice 1 cup 1/2 cup tomato sauce plus 1/2 cup water plus dash each salt and sugar; or 1/4 cup tomato paste plus 3/4 cup water plus salt and sugar, to taste
Tomato ketchup 1/2 cup 1/2 cup tomato sauce plus 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon vinegar, and 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
Tomato puree 1 cup 1/2 cup tomato paste plus 1/2 cup water
Tomato soup 1 can (10–3/4 oz.) 1 cup tomato sauce plus 1/4 cup water
Vanilla bean 1-inch bean 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or substitute bourbon, rum, or whiskey, using two times the amount of vanilla called for in the recipe.
Vinegar 1 teaspoon 1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice, or 2 teaspoons white wine
Vinegar, apple cider malt, white-wine, or rice vinegar
Vinegar, balsamic 1 tablespoon 1 tablespoon red- or white-wine vinegar plus 1/2 teaspoon sugar
Vinegar, red-wine white-wine, sherry, champagne, or balsamic vinegar. 
Vinegar, rice apple-cider, champagne, or white-wine vinegar
Vinegar, white wine apple-cider, champagne, fruit (raspberry), rice, or red-wine vinegar
Wine 1 cup 1 cup chicken or beef broth; or 1 cup fruit juice mixed with 2 teaspoons vinegar; or 1 cup water
Yeast 1 cake (3/5 oz.) 1 package (1/4 ounce) or 1 scant tablespoon active dried yeast
Yogurt, plain 1 cup 1 cup sour cream (thicker; less tart) or buttermilk (thinner; use in baking, dressings, sauces)

Substitutions for Uncommon Ingredients

Here is a list of substitutions for ingredients that are a little less common or can occasionally be hard to find.

Balsamic vinegar—1 tablespoon 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar plus 1/2 teaspoon sugar
Bamboo shoots Asparagus (in fried dishes)
Bergamot Mint
Chayotes Yellow summer squash or zucchini
Cilantro Parsley (for color only; flavor cannot be duplicated)
Coconut milk 2–1/2 cups water plus 2 cups shredded, unsweetened coconut.

Combine and bring to a boil. Remove from heat; cool. Mix in a blender for 2 minutes; strain. Makes about 2 cups.

Delicata squash Butternut squash or sweet potato
Green mangoes Sour, green cooking apples
Habanero peppers 5 jalapeno peppers or serrano peppers
Italian seasoning Equal parts basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, sage, and thyme
Lemon grass Lemon zest (zest from 1 lemon equals 2 stalks lemon grass)
Limes or lime juice Lemons or lemon juice
Lo Mein noodles Egg noodles
— 1 cup
3 tablespoons heavy cream plus 3/4 cup cream cheese plus 4 tablespoons butter
Neufchatel Cream cheese or Boursin
Palm sugar Light brown sugar
Rice wine Pale, dry sherry or white vermouth
Red peppers Equal amount pimientos
Romano cheese Parmesan cheese
Saffron Turmeric (for color; flavor is different)
Shallots Red onions or Spanish onions
Shrimp paste Anchovy paste
Tamarind juice 5 parts ketchup to 1 part vinegar

Please let us know if we’re missing any substitutions that you’d like to see! Also, if you have other sugestions on ingredient substitutions (which you’ve personally tested successfully), please share in the comments below! Thank you!

2023 Almanac Club